Remission Rates and Predictors of Chronic Headache

Man with headache
Man with headache
Investigators examined remission rates and predictors of remission in patients with chronic headache over 11 years.

In an 11-year follow-up on individuals with chronic headache, three-quarters experienced remission, and remission was highest for participants without chronic musculoskeletal complaints or medication overuse headaches, according to a recent study published in Cephalalgia.

Between 2 to 5% of adults experience chronic headache, which is defined as ≥ 15 headache days each month for 3 or more months. In order to estimate the remission rates of participants with chronic headache and to determine predictors of remission, study investigators analyzed data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health (HUNT) Study. The HUNT study invited all Nord-Trøndelag inhabitants aged 20 or older to participate in 3 health questionnaire examinations and clinical consultations that included blood samples as well as height, weight, and blood pressure measurements. These 3 examinations/consultations are referred to as HUNT1 (1984-1986), HUNT2 (1995-1997), and HUNT3 (2006 to 2008).

In HUNT2, 51,856 individuals answered the headache questions, and 2.4% (n=1266) reported chronic headache. Of these chronic headache participants, only 48% (n=605) responded to the headache questions in HUNT3. Chronic headache remission (<15 headaches a month) was observed in 74.7% (n=452) of the 605 HUNT3 responders. Remission rates were almost identical between men and women, but were higher among individuals who did not report experiencing chronic musculoskeletal complaints (86.6% vs 71.1, P <.001) or medication overuse headaches (81.5% vs 65.4, P <.001) in HUNT2.

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Study investigators conclude that “The present results may be of relevance for the ongoing debate about pathophysiology of chronic headache.”


Hagen K, Kristoffersen ES, Winsvold BS, Stovner LJ, Zwart JA.Remission of chronic headache: an 11-year follow-up study. Data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Surveys 1995–1997 and 2006–2008 [published online January 1, 2018]. Cephalalgia. doi: 10.1177/0333102418769940